Whether you’re a working mum or a stay-home mum, time seems to be one of the most scarce resources of today. Some days, my time passes by in a blur, and I’m left wondering what happened to all my time at the end of the day. On those days, I feel terribly disorganised and disgruntled at myself for letting things slide.
If you feel it’s time to get serious on planning and time management, here are some ideas to get you started.
1. Know your Priorities
Priorities are closely related to your goals. You can have different goals for various aspects of your life – family, friends, career, personal development, etc. Ask yourself these questions, “What is most important to me in this season of life?” and “Does this (activity) help me achieve my goals?” Your goals and priorities should help direct the way you spend your time.
Know your time-stealers, and try to minimise distractions (like social media perhaps) as much as you can.
I know mums were made to be excellent multi-taskers, but I think the hardest thing to do today is F.O.C.U.S. When you’re trying hard to accomplish a task, it’s so easy to be distracted by your incoming whatsapp messages, Facebook notifications and the like. I find it useful to turn everything off, or to tune myself out, during my most productive hours in the day. And then to check in later, after I’m done with work. Messages don’t self-destruct; they can wait.
3. Schedule Quality Time with the Kids
As a work-at-home mum, what works for me is scheduling a “kiddy time” ahead of time, so I know once 4.30pm hits, I stop whatever I’m doing, have a snack with the kids, and ask them what they’d like to play with or do. I’d suggest things like chalk-doodling at the void deck, scooting downstairs, or just heading out to the nearby playground. I may even prepare art materials beforehand for a simple craft activity. Even if you just start off with 15 or 20 minutes, it’s still a good start. What matters is that you’re fully present at this time (meaning all mobile devices have to be left hidden somewhere).
4. Make Lists Work for you
I love lists. They make me feel like I’ve have things under control when I’ve got them on paper.
Place a star beside those things that are important, and a dot beside those that are urgent. Ideally, you’ll want to dedicate some time during your most productive part of the day to do the important things. Even things like messaging a friend or calling home to check in on the kids are important things too, so don’t forget to include those.
On this note, you may want to check out this app called Wunderlist. It’s a great way to keep up to speed with your to-do lists.
5. Plan Ahead
Imagine the time you save when you already know what you wish to wear, eat, and do in the morning. When a routine is in place and everyone knows what’s expected, it makes a big difference in getting everyone to the right place at the right time.
So plan ahead – for meals, for weekend activities, for grocery shopping, for gifts for your kids’ friends, and the list goes on. Of course, not everything will go as perfectly planned, and even the most organised parent can get thrown off by the unexpected, but it always helps to think ahead.
6. Keep your weekend Schedule Simple
If you have young children, it helps to limit the number of things you get up to as a family. Lugging everyone around town could be a potentially hair-raising experience so try to plan things that you really enjoy as a family, such as picnics at the park or a swim and breakfast with friends. While it’s fun to explore new places once in a while, I find what works for us is being able to just head out and enjoy our neighbourhood, such as the community library, parks and playgrounds, and nearby malls.
7. Order Groceries Online
Redmart, Tangy Tangerines, Cold Storage are just some grocery and fresh produce providers all provide delivery with minimum orders. If you prefer organic options, try Zenxin and Nature’s Glory. Find one that is suitable for your needs so you can save time and energy for more important things.
8. Cook in Batches and Freeze
Bone broth, pasta sauce, and stews all freeze well. I like to make pork or chicken bone broth, and freeze them into cubes, so I can easily pop one or two into the pot of porridge or pasta soup for the kids. Great for busy weekends!
9. Rope kids in to Help with Age-appropriate Chores
Kids as young as two or three start to develop a sense of independence and have a desire to be helpful around the home. Take advantage of this and give them some simple chores such as making the bed, packing up their toys, or even sorting their clean clothes and socks, and folding them. Not only are you teaching them a life skill, you’re also setting the foundation for them to learn about responsibilities. It also helps them to feel good about themselves and develop self-esteem.
When they show that they are faithful with doing what they’ve been given, you can slowly increase the number of chores.
10. Hire a Part-time Cleaner
If you don’t have domestic help, you can consider part-time help once or twice a week to lessen your workload at home.
I hope you found these tips useful. If they benefit you in some way, do share this article with your friends!